The polls are closed and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's first test of leadership is in the books. Now, it is just a matter of waiting to see what voters in five ridings across the province have decided.
Voting for five Ontario byelections ended at 9 p.m., and results are rolling in. Pre-election polling suggested it could be a rough night for the government Liberals, who were in tight battles to hold all five seats, abandoned by former Liberal representatives.
Before the byelection, the Liberals held just a handful more seats than the opposition parties combined, and the results will not change that. Going into Thursday night, the Liberals held 48 seats, the Progressive Conservatives held 36 and the NDP held 18, with five seats sitting vacant.
Following Thursday’s results, the Liberals will still hold the balance of seats, but the numbers are expected to be slightly closer, with momentum firmly in the hands of their opposition.
Here is how the five ridings up for grabs on Thursday break down.
The race to replace Liberal Laurel Broten faced a fierce battle between two members of Toronto city council. Progressive Conservative Doug Holyday, the city’s deputy mayor, had led Liberal Peter Milczyn in lead-up polling. One of these two men is expected to head to Queen’s Park, with the other limping back to Toronto City Hall.
Liberal incumbent Margarett Best resigned her seat last month taking a leave from Queen’s Park due to an undisclosed medical issue. Her successor, Mitzi Hunter was in a close fight with Tory Ken Kirupa leading into the election. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford made this battle his pet project, spending time campaigning on behalf of Kirupa. NDP candidate Adam Giambrone, a former city councillor and briefly a mayoral candidate, was running a close third in the tightly-contested riding.
Perhaps nowhere would a Liberal loss be more telling than in Ottawa South. Former premier Dalton McGuinty represented the area for two decades before stepping out of politics amid the scandal surrounding the cost of cancelled gas plants. Liberal John Fraser, a former McGuinty aide, had been attacked over a possible connection to the controversy, allowing Progressive Conservative Matt Young to take the lead in popular polls.
Liberal incumbent Chris Bentley announced his resignation after being embroiled in the same gas plant scandal. The Liberals threw their fate into the hands of Ken Coran, a former teachers’ union leader who had publicly denounced the way McGuinty handled teacher contract negotiations. In lead-in polls, however, Coran had fallen behind Ali Chahbar (PC) and Peggy Sattler (NDP), meaning it is likely to riding will change hands.
After Dwight Duncan, a former Liberal finance minister, announced he would be leaving office, the Liberals attempted and failed to lure Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis into running. Since then, the likelihood of the Liberals holding the riding has waned. NDP Percy Hatfield, veteran reporter and city councillor, appeared poised to take the riding easily.